Is suicide assessment harmful to participants? Findings from a randomized controlled trial

Harris, Keith M. and Goh, Melissa Ting-Ting (2016) Is suicide assessment harmful to participants? Findings from a randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 26 2: 181-190. doi:10.1111/inm.12223


Author Harris, Keith M.
Goh, Melissa Ting-Ting
Title Is suicide assessment harmful to participants? Findings from a randomized controlled trial
Journal name International Journal of Mental Health Nursing   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1447-0349
1445-8330
Publication date 2016-04-16
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/inm.12223
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 26
Issue 2
Start page 181
End page 190
Total pages 10
Place of publication Richmond, VIC, Australia
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia
Language eng
Abstract There is considerable debate on whether suicide assessment carries an iatrogenic risk for participants/patients. A double-blind randomized controlled trial (registration: R000022314) tested the emotional impact of suicide assessment on participants (n = 259) randomly assigned to experimental (n = 122) or control conditions (n = 137). The experimental condition included the Suicidal Affect-Behavior-Cognition Scale and intensive death-related questions, the control condition a quality of life scale. Both included measures of depression, social support and loneliness. Affective states were assessed immediately before and after testing, and research biases minimized. Post-test debriefing interviews collected qualitative reactions. Experimental participants ranged from nonsuicidal to highly suicidal. Between-groups ANCOVAs and repeated measures ANOVAs showed no differences by study condition, and no pre-post-test affect changes for either condition or suicidal participants (P > 0.10), supporting the null hypothesis of no iatrogenic effects. However, depressive participants in both conditions showed significant decreases in positive affect (P < 0.05). Smallest real difference (SRD) scores approximated clinically meaningful differences and showed 20% of participants had a significant positive survey reaction, 24% a negative reaction, with the rest neutral. Linear regressions revealed depressive symptoms and perceived family support, but not suicidality or other factors, predicted negative affect changes, which was supported by qualitative findings. Social desirability bias was also found in qualitative survey responses. No evidence of iatrogenic effects of suicide assessment were found. Recommendations are made to counter possible negative assessment effects on depressive participants/patients, and nurses and other caregivers are encouraged to talk to patients about suicidal symptoms.
Formatted abstract
There is considerable debate on whether suicide assessment carries an iatrogenic risk for participants/patients. A double-blind randomized controlled trial (registration: R000022314) tested the emotional impact of suicide assessment on participants (n = 259) randomly assigned to experimental (n = 122) or control conditions (n = 137). The experimental condition included the Suicidal Affect-Behavior-Cognition Scale and intensive death-related questions, the control condition a quality of life scale. Both included measures of depression, social support and loneliness. Affective states were assessed immediately before and after testing, and research biases minimized. Post-test debriefing interviews collected qualitative reactions. Experimental participants ranged from nonsuicidal to highly suicidal. Between-groups ANCOVAs and repeated measures ANOVAs showed no differences by study condition, and no pre-post-test affect changes for either condition or suicidal participants (P > 0.10), supporting the null hypothesis of no iatrogenic effects. However, depressive participants in both conditions showed significant decreases in positive affect (P < 0.05). Smallest real difference (SRD) scores approximated clinically meaningful differences and showed 20% of participants had a significant positive survey reaction, 24% a negative reaction, with the rest neutral. Linear regressions revealed depressive symptoms and perceived family support, but not suicidality or other factors, predicted negative affect changes, which was supported by qualitative findings. Social desirability bias was also found in qualitative survey responses. No evidence of iatrogenic effects of suicide assessment were found. Recommendations are made to counter possible negative assessment effects on depressive participants/patients, and nurses and other caregivers are encouraged to talk to patients about suicidal symptoms.
Keyword Assessment
Depression
Research bias
Suicide prevention
Survey
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ
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Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Psychology Publications
 
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